Pickleball Q&As

What do we all think of the spin serve?

Matt Manasse posted over 1 year ago
2 answers
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Answers
The spin serve seems to be an interesting evolution in the sport. I guess the creator of pickleball did not want the serve to be considered a "weapon" like it is in tennis. In fact, the game is designed to put the returning team at a disadvantage, having to defend from the get go. Essentially, earning the point by defending first and then transitioning to attack later.

Here is a good article summing up spin serve and how it is changing the game (especially) at the pro level.

I know that USAPickleball, the ruling body for pickleball will be voting on whether to keep the serve in the game or whether adjusting the rules to eliminate this type of serve will be necessary.

I personally  don't have a problem with a player serving a spin serve, as long as they are required to toss or drop the ball using one hand only. I would forbid adding any initial spin to the ball by spinning it off the paddle, the handle or any part of the body. If the player is capable of adding some initial spin by tossing it up with one hand, that would be fine.
This is certainly a touchy subject and probably does need to be addressed by governing bodies. It's normal for there to be innovation in sports so that top players can gain competitive advantage. But it is up to the governing bodies to keep things in check to make sure the sport retains its essence and spirit and doesn't evolve into something so different that it is barely recognizable.

With pickleball, it's pretty clear that the serve wasn't meant to become the focal point of the game because the rules put substantial limitations on it.That said, we can probably assume that pickleballers have been putting spin on various strokes including the serve since the earliest days. As a hybrid sport with elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, it's only normal that players would apply successful  techniques from the parent sports.

Personally, I think that spin should be natural spin gained simply from the contact of the paddle face with the ball on a serve that is patently legal (i.e. it looks completely normal other than an angled paddle face to impart spin). Beyond that, we are getting away from the sport's essence, in my opinion. 

Coming to pickleball from tennis, I understand spin and am able to use it effectively. I've also experimented with both a chainsaw type of serve and the spin toss serve during practice sessions. As a rule, I only purposely apply spin on capable opponents. When I'm playing in open play with beginners or less skilled players, I hit simpler, slower serves so that they have a good chance to return and play more multi shot rallies. There's no need to be a jerk to those who are not well rounded players.

I'd be good with seeing the rules allow for more advanced serving for pros and perhaps 4.0 and above. Below that I believe the focus should be on improving fundamentals. Or, to put it another way, if you're able to create heavy spins on purpose, you probably need to be playing in a higher division.